16 Memorable Stories of Standing Up Against Street Harassment 2012

We are proud today to share the second annual blog list of 16 memorable stories of women dealing with street harassment which has been kindly compiled by Holly Kearl, Founder of Stop Street Harassment and one of our 16 Female Role Models of 2010.

Almost 100% of women and girls experience street harassment in their lifetimes ranging from the uncomfortable to the downright dangerous. Holly receives many stories of women fighting back against street harassment by themselves or with the help of friends, family and bystanders which is shared on the Stop Street Harassment website and Facebook page to help raise awareness of this particular type of violence against women as well as provide inspiration and ideas for everyone on making public places and spaces safe ones for women.

This list provides a starting point for all to learn about and discuss the impact of street harassment. We hope it’ll inspire you to take action.

It’s time to stop violence against women. Together.

– Regina Yau, Founder and President, The Pixel Project


Empowering Response #1: In Seattle, Washington, as a woman walked down the street she heard a man shout, “Hey baby, hey baby…” from across the street. When she ignored him, he ran across the street and started following her shouting, “Hey what’s wrong with you, you prejudice? You’re prejudiced aren’t you…” (she was white and he was black). She got mad and shouted, “Yes I’m prejudiced,” and he looked shocked. Then she said, “I’m prejudiced against men who stand on street corners shouting at women!” His shocked expression changed to one of thoughtfulness and as he turned away he said, “I’m going to think about what you just said.”

Empowering Response #2: When a man groped Dawn as she walked to her bus stop in London, she pulled her headphones out and screamed “HOW DARE YOU GROPE ME, YOU DISGUSTING MAN!” A man two metres in front heard her and shouted at the groper, “What are you doing? How would you feel if it was your sister?” The groper looked shocked and ran off.

Empowering Response #3: When Maureen was at Home Depot in Maryland, she heard a voice behind her say, “Looking good, little mama.” She whipped her head around and without hesitation responded, “Excuse me? I’m not your little mama, don’t think you can speak to me that way. Move along.” He was obviously shocked that she called him out and embarrassed, because everyone else in the aisle turned around and stared at him.

Empowering Response #4: After observing men at a construction site in London harassing women day after day, Jen filled out a comment card and emailed the company. She received this message from the Head of External Communications, “Dear Jen, I want to let you know that the investigation has begun and whilst we carry out the investigation, the individual is not currently working at our site… thank you for bringing this to our attention. Our Project Director and I would be more than happy to meet with you if you wish.”

Empowering Response #5: A woman riding the CalTrain leaving San Francisco, California, was told by a man who’d been leering at her, “Nice legs, very sexy.” She gave him a death stare and he turned around, but then leered at her a few more times. When she got up to leave the train, she stood by him and calmly but firmly and loudly said, “The reason I did not respond to you is because what you said to me was sexually aggressive and made me feel threatened…” He apologized and seemed really ashamed and she felt better.

Empowering Response #6: A man in Austin, Texas, asked to see a woman’s breasts when she approached her car, parked on the road. She paused and then said, “Actually that’s not okay because what you just said is harassment.” He claimed he was flirting and she said, “No, that’s not flirting, because you just made me into a sexual object and that is not okay.” They argued back and forth for a bit and then she said, “Just because I am a woman alone on the street doesn’t mean you can talk to me like that.” He said, “Well if that’s how you’re going to look at this then I can’t win…” She concluded by saying, “That’s how I’m looking at it.”

Empowering Response #7: A bus driver who used to tease female passengers by passing lewd comments and playing vulgar songs learnt the lesson of his life when he was beaten blue and black by two female passengers at [the] Bhatinda bus stop [in India].”

Empowering Response #8: A woman was at a nightclub in Vancouver when a man approached her and engaged her in small talk. She politely responded back but then he said, “Nice tits.” She was shocked but looked him right in the eyes, and said, “Yours are pretty nice too.”  Once he comprehended what she said, he was surprised, left her alone and then left the club altogether.

Empowering Response #9: Priscilla Dang was running in Vancouver, Washington, when two teenage boys bicycled past her and one of them groped her. She knows kung-fu and she “pushed one of the teenagers to the ground and made him apologize. When the second teenager called her a derogatory term, Dang says she snapped, hitting him in the face several times while simultaneously dodging his punches. According to The Columbian, when he pulled out a knife she used his bike as a shield until a passerby showed up and called 911…The 18-year-old suspect is now facing fourth-degree assault charges, while the 16-year-old will be judged by a juvenile prosecutor.”

Empowering Response #10: When a construction worker in Melbourne, Australia, looked HD up and down and told her she looked hot, she replied loudly “I don’t know who you are. We’re not friends,” all without breaking stride.

Empowering Response #11: A man on a bicycle sexually assaulted Liz Gorman in Washington, DC’s Dupont Circle. She reported the incident to the Metropolitan Police Department and wrote about her experience on the blog of Collective Action for Safe Spaces. Within days, the post had set off a viral reaction, both locally and nationally. It was republished by The Washington Post, Jezebel and Fem2.0. It has been reported on by The Washington Post Local (front page Metro section!), WJLAWTTG FOX, DCist, DCblogs and the Washington City Paper. The police were eventually able to find her assailant and he admitted to assaulting numerous other women.

Empowering Response #12: Jackie in Savannah, Georgia: “I was walking home from school and a car followed alongside me for about 10 minutes, constantly asking me if I wanted a ride several times. The last time he asked I looked him in the eye and said, “You’re obviously not going any faster than I am, so why would I want a ride?” He sped away.

Empowering Response #13: In Manhattan, Athena told a harasser he had “bad manners” after he yelled, “I love you and that ass too,” at another woman who had just passed by him.

Empowering Response #14: A group of young men harassed a 50-year-old woman named Anne as she walked into a grocery store in Lindsay, Ontario, Canada. The manager of the store refused to do anything about it, so she decided to stop giving him her business and he lost her as a customer.

Empowering Response #15: In Boston, a young woman would not let a public masturbator intimidate her during her trolley ride home from work. Instead she went into “She-Hulk” mode and lunged at him as he tried to run away. She called the police and he was arrested under the charge of “open and gross lewdness” and was ordered to stay off the public transportation system in the future.

Empowering Response #16: In Brooklyn, New York, Kendalle was harassed by a construction worker who made graphic and disgusting noises and motions at her and commented on her legs. She told him, “That’s disgusting. Keep it to yourself” and kept on walking.

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Give back while giving joy this Christmas:

Searching for an affordable gift that is both empowering and uplifting for someone in need of that extra encouragement and good vibes this Christmas? Check out our “16 For 16” digital EP featuring 5 songs aimed at lifting the spirits and empowering survivors of Violence Against Women worldwide via all major online music stores including iTunes, Amazon, Google Music, Spotify and many more. Prices range from US$4.95 to US$6.45 depending on region and retailer and 100% of the proceeds go towards keeping The Pixel Project’s programmes and projects running. Just click on the buttons below to be taken to the EP’s download page in your preferred online music store:

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